Six years after the Democratic Labour Party assumed office, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is still confronted with the same challenges.
Former Minister of Health Dr Jerome Walcott levelled this charge at the Democratic Labour Party today while speaking on a money resolution of $25 million for the QEH.
Walcott, who is one of Barbados’ leading surgeons said: “On many occasions while I was Minister of Health I tried to dissuade people from using the health service and by extension the QEH as a political football. I was incompetent, the Government of the day did not know what they were doing, and even a former moderator on a call-in programme held similar sentiments. So I was surprised to hear the Leader of Government business in the Senate, Senator Maxine McClean saying that running a hospital was a tough job.
“And it certainly is. We hear the Minister of Health John Boyce speaking about this secondary health institution when QEH is a tertiary health institution. It says it repeatedly. When speaking about removing the QEH from a political football we moved towards establishing a board. We thought that the stakeholders should be involved. We established a ten member board. Three persons being selected by the minister and seven, the majority representing various stakeholder interests. DLP believed that this was wrong, but two days before the Christmas the chickens have come home to roost. Suffice it to say, six years later with all of the ideas, this enlightened management, enlightened Government in terms of health care, we are faced with essentially the same issues,” the Opposition senator added.
Walcott stressed that however it was put, the QEH was under-funded at that time and it remains under-funded today.
“If you look at the document for 2013-2014 on the QEH and if they look at Page 9 of that document, it speaks of resources for the QEH and the document speaks of the challenges the hospital is facing this year to sustain current levels clinical and diagnostic services, it speaks of inadequate resources. Page 9 of the document speaks on resources, inadequate resources directed at processes including maintenance. Then it spoke of gross inadequacy of financial resources for basic medical supplies. Problems that we experienced then are very much the same today.
“Overcrowding in the medical and surgical wards. It happened then and it still happening today. Cancellation of surgery still happening six years after enlightened management. The Medical Intensive Unit, still no medical intensive unit. Recurrent shortage of vital drugs in spite of draconian changes to the Drug Service. Still having the elderly still being dumped at the QEH and this was supposed to be solved.
“The lifts still not working in spite of the parliamentary secretary saying that within six months the problem would have been resolved.
“Six years three, Ministers of Health, four boards, four chairmen, three CEOs, and this is all. However, one good thing I will say about management of the QEH. In spite of the dire conditions, the management are all able to enjoy a game of golf on Saturdays and every year in October will travel to the Dominican Republic to play golf while all of these issues are occurring. That is the one good thing I can say about them,” said Walcott. (NC)